Lemon Garlic Shrimp over Spaghetti Squash, something light for the new year

We’ve indulged, and now it is time to think about a little lighter experience at the dinner table!

The stars were with us, and our family was able to gather together and celebrate the holidays this year, only the second time we’ve all been together in over two years. This being Vermont, with its unpredictable weather fluctuations, the celebration happened almost a week after Christmas. Toss a December 30th granddaughter’s birthday in the mix, and we had a wonderful Christmas/Birthday/New Year gathering of my whole brood. In these unpredictable times, any event actually happening is a blessing indeed!


So, we feasted on the precious bounty of being together, and of course, on all the festive foods and beverages we look forward to. From fresh Maine lobsters and oysters, to champagne and lots of chocolate, we did it up in style, counting not a calorie along the way, and laughing through it all. 

Let’s lighten things up a little

      However, now is the time to get back to a little lighter, healthier fare! Since my husband had a cardiac event in November, we have to be really careful about saturated fat. Santa brought me a new air fryer, and this week I will actually read the instructions and do some experimenting. But for this weekend, I’ll stick with a tried-and-true recipe that is always a hit – Lemon and Garlic Shrimp, but this time I’m serving it over spaghetti squash, I’ll use a bit less oil, and omit the butter, substituting some quick shrimp stock made from the shells in its place.

A little green

      I’ve also added some baby spinach to the mix to bump up the nutrition even more, and tossed in some parsley, which is also filled with vitamins and minerals. I’m proud to say, I’m still harvesting lots of herbs from my cold frame: parsley, thyme, sage, and even rosemary which was an experiment! If I can keep rosemary in my cold frame in Vermont to January, it’s good indeed! We still have some Swiss chard growing as well, but I’ve used most of it, so the best I could manage from it at this time would be a little garnish since it really isn’t growing. I plan more experiments for next year.

      If you don’t have baby spinach, use any green you love from baby kale to arugula. You can even use frozen spinach if you thaw it and drain it really well. Us any favorite mushroom as well.

Every scrap is used, and flavor abounds 

      One thing I love about  this dish is that every scrap from the ingredients is put to work adding luscious flavor. We’re using all the vegetable scraps as well as the shrimp shells to create a quick little flavorful stock that enhances the squash and every other part of the dish. Mom would approve since she saved every crust of bread or onion skin. Before I toss anything in the compost heap, I ask myself if it would work in stock (beets don’t but most other veggie scraps do) and I tuck it away. I might not use it, but it’s there if I want it.

      Prep everything, then concentrate on the spaghetti squash, the rest of the dish comes together in minutes. I’m using the microwave method here to cook the squash which is much faster than baking, and the seed cavity is actually easier to remove. If you prefer to bake it, you can just slice the squash in half along the equator (the “strands” will be longer) and place it flesh-side-down on a baking sheet with a little water. This will take upwards to an hour, but it’s almost all hands-off.

      I used 21-30 shrimp here which is what I found that day, but you can use larger if you like. Once the spaghetti squash is nestled in the shrimp stock, the rest of the dish comes together in just minutes.

      Guilt-free and delicious! Light and luscious!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp over Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 lb. wild USA shrimp
  • 1 large shallot, chopped, skins and all
  • Small bunch parsley
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 10 oz. baby spinach
  • ½ cup dried fresh bread crumbs

Prep the vegetables. Chop the shallot, skins and all and add to a pot. Cut the stems off the parsley and mince them, and toss them in too. Mince about a half cup of the leaves, separately, and set aside. Slice the mushrooms, toss the stems in the stock pot, mince the garlic and toss the skins in the pot as well. Rinse the spinach. Zest the lemons and juice them. Set all this aside.

Peel and devein the shrimp. Refrigerate the shrimp and place the shells, whole shallot, and the stems of the parsley and mushrooms in a pot with the olive oil. On high, brown slightly for a few minutes then add three cups of water and a little salt and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain, reserve a half cup, and set the rest of this stock aside in a large bowl, in a warm oven, 250 degrees.

Pierce the spaghetti squash with a sharp knife, be careful, and place on a plate in the microwave for five minutes. If your squash is over 4 lbs., cook for seven. Remove from the microwave and cut it in half at the equator. Return to the microwave for another five (or seven) minutes. Remove and scrape out the seeds, they will come out easily. Then, place the squash back in the microwave for a final five to seven minutes or so, or until the flesh strings away easily. Scrape our the flesh strings and add to the bowl of stock, and continue to keep warm in the oven. You can get all this done and take a breath.

Now, it goes fast. Pat the shrimp dry, season, and dust with flour. Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil and the shrimp in a single layer. Sprinkle with about half the garlic and cook for about two minutes, turn, and cook another minute or so, or until pink and just curled. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm. Drizzle a bit more oil to the pan and add the mushrooms and the rest of the garlic. Saute until they brown. Add the parsley, lemon juice and zest, honey, and some salt and pepper. Ladle in the quarter cup of the reserved shrimp stock, scraping up any glaze from the pan. Stir in the spinach, cover, and remove from the heat. It will wilt.

Arrange the spaghetti squash on a large platter (you won’t need to plate all the juice yet), top with the mushroom mixture, and arrange shrimp on top. You can drizzle more of the stock, it adds to the dish, garnish with a little more parsley, or breadcrumbs if you want some texture, and if you like add some chopped tomatoes for a little color.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yum! What a great meal to kick off the year!

    1. Thank you so much! We really enjoyed this.

  2. Carole says:

    Definitely my kind of dish!!! I’ll give it a try. Happy New Year from on Vermonter to another 🎉

    1. Have a warm and wonderful New Year to one of my favorite friends out there in the blog world! I’ve learned so much from you Carol, and look forward to all your posts!

  3. Suzassippi says:

    This sounds scrumptious! I love everything in this! I have been thinking of your making vegetable stock using your leftover bits and am going to try it. I am about to delve into creating the chickpea vegetable soup I enjoyed in St. Augustine, and what better way to enhance the flavor than the clues you provided here? I will also be trying the coconut milk addition you often suggest. Maybe I will toss in a few shrimp as well…and some kale…and parsley…in addition to the carrots and onions I detected. While I am not a fan of raw onions in any form, I do enjoy onions in soups, stews, and of course, caramelized on anything! After trying my hand at the cardamom cake–which son polished off last night–I think I am ready to cook again!

    1. I am so happy that you are taking my cues! I learned from my mom to stuff anything that has any flavor and is left over, to save for a stock or stew. She wasted nothing. She even placed her butter wrappers on the green beans or carrots for dinner and let that little last bit of butter drip into them.
      Happy cooking my friend! I’m so glad your family loved the clementine cake. The Christmas holidays wouldn’t be the same here without it.

  4. Suzassippi says:

    Oh, and I forgot, love the ‘after party” and doggie and foggy sunrise pictures! Those were so fun so thanks for the extra helping.

    1. My granddaughter, who just turned 10 and got to stay up with us until the ball dropped, decorated the dog. He didn’t care much!

  5. NativeNM says:

    This looks so delicious and healthy as well. I’m always looking for a new shrimp dish to try. Happy New Year, I look forward to your new creations throughout 2022!

    1. Thank you so much! I’ll be keeping light this year with my husband’s restrictions, but hopefully I can keep the flavor there!

  6. nancyc says:

    Something light and lemony like this sounds really good to me after eating so much rich holiday food! 🙂

    1. I know! It was just what we needed!

  7. Sounds delicious! Happy 2022. Whew!

    1. Yes, the purge of the house begins!

  8. Americaoncoffee says:

    Great idea! I started a fast, which is a spiritual pause for me. The shrimp salad sounds perfect. Wishing you a great 1st day start of the year.

    1. That is a lovely way to greet the new year! A pause, reflection, gives one a feeling of lightness.

  9. Gail says:

    I, too, began the year with scrumptious grilled shrimp. 🍃🍤

    1. A perfect way to greet the new year!

  10. So glad you could gather with your whole family! The shrimp dish sounds wonderful and it’s so pretty~ we are experimenting with a new air fryer also to lighten things up for 2022!

    1. I love a new appliance, and everyone I know who has one absolutely loves it, so I’m excited to begin!

  11. Delicious! Garlic-lemon shrimp is a classic combination for a good reason. Great idea, to serve it with spaghetti squash. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit, the spaghetti squash really lightened it up, not that I don’t love it with pasta or some nice crispy French bread!

      1. lol Pasta would be my first choice, but as you said, we’ve indulged enough for a while! 🙂

      2. Got to feel virtuous at least for a little while!

      3. Indeed! 🙂

  12. Julia says:

    Happy New Year! This sounds like a wonderful way to greet the new year! We had fried oysters and potato chips for New Year’s Eve and black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread for New Year’s Day.

    1. Oh! I love fried oysters! Sounds like a great way for you to welcome the new year!

      1. Julia says:

        It is our tradition to have fried oysters and other fried food on New Year’s Eve.

      2. We have oysters on Christmas Eve, sometimes raw and sometimes broiled or fried. I like them best raw, but it’s not everyone’s liking so it depends on who is here!

      3. Julia says:

        I love Oysters Rockefeller, grilled oysters, and even smoked oysters. I don’t care for raw oysters, but Bruce loves them.

  13. Dorothy, shrimp and spaghetti squash is a great start to the year. I cook spaghetti squash a lot but sometimes I use half squash and half angel hair.

    1. What a good idea Bernie! I like that, sort of the best of both worlds!

  14. Nancy says:

    Oh Dorothy… I am loving the idea of sautéed shrimp on Spaghetti Squash. I make Spaghetti Squash often and this just adds another recipe to my recipe box. Thank you!
    I’m so happy you had a fabulous time with family. After our crazy couple of years family time is even more happier and fun!

  15. Luscious, guilt-fee and delicious indeed 😋
    It’s so great to use your own fresh cultivated herbs 😍 I have a very limited space but I have basil, parsley, rosemary and mint 😁

    1. It’s wonderful to go out and pick just what you need for a dish, isn’t it? Without the cold frame, I’d be picking just indoor rosemary, but the frame makes such a difference.

  16. Winner Girl says:

    I love shrimp, I want to try this recipe right away. Thank you so much for your delicious recipes, as always. 🧡😘

    1. Thank you for your kind words Winner Girl! I love to share my little tips on cooking, and it makes me happy to see people enjoy the recipes.
      Happy New Year of fun in the kitchen!

      1. Winner Girl says:

        Sorry if I answer late. it’s a beautiful thing of you to share your little secrets in the kitchen with all of us. Happy New Year to you my dear Dorothy 😘🧡

      2. Let’s hope it is a good and safe one for all. 💕

  17. Delighted you had such a great family Christmas and New Year Dorothy and the recipe is stunning we love shrimp and always looking for new ways to enjoy ♥

    1. Thanks Sally! We needed something a little lighter to start the New Year! Too many little indulgences!

      1. We do Dorothy.. but lovely to have a splurge for a little while..hugsx

  18. haoyando says:

    I have to say I tried Spaghetti squash twice with other recipes but couldn’t get it into a tasty dish. The texture of the squash is so different from real spaghetti that I didn’t feel … However I’ll try your recipe for a change this time…

    1. I try not to think of it as spaghetti, but as a delicious vegetable base for the topping. Sometimes I top boiled potatoes, or even green beans with other vegetables, and it’s all good!

  19. What a flavorful meal all in one. Excellent recipe Dorothy!

    1. Thanks Diane, we really loved this one! And we felt virtuous eating it after the indulgences of the holidays.

  20. Carole says:

    Dorothy, I made this dish and it was exquisite! My husband and I absolutely loved it! It was a truly light dish that felt healthy and professional. I cooked the spinach a tad too much and sprinkled it with Romano cheese that was completely unnecessary. I won’t do that again. Thanks for sharing it!
    Photos are posted on my Instagram account with full credit to you!
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CYZOCBzFT2a/?utm_medium=copy_link. vermontgiardiniera

  21. Spaghetti squash is such a fun ingredient, and I like that you cook it in the microwave. Shrimp stock has a lot of flavor, even more so if you can find shrimp with heads (which I believe can be difficult in the US). You list breadcrumbs in the ingredients, but I can’t figure out what you do with them? I’d salt the shrimp before refrigerating them, as the salt will penetrate into the shrimp and will bring out their flavor.

    1. The salting is a good idea! Thanks!
      The breadcrumbs I sometimes sprinkle on top for a little texture, but I didn’t use them this time, so I will explain!

  22. terrie gura says:

    Oh, the versatility of spaghetti squash! I like this microwave method you mention because I’m always worried I’ll slash myself trying to cut the hard squash in half for roasting. I’ll have to try that next time.

    I confess that I teared up a bit at the picture of the table after your gathering. What a blessing to have such a mess!! 🥰

    1. Yes! We call it the glorious mess!!!

  23. I have saved this recipe, Dorothy. I am a big shrimp [we call them prawns here] fan.

    1. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! Happy New Year!

  24. I’m glad you had such a good Christmas with your family, Dorothy!

    1. Thank you! I am so grateful everyone was healthy and able to gather. Such a gift!

      1. You’re welcome!!

  25. Michael W. Zach says:

    Thank you for another delicious idea, Dorothy. I think my future live will consist of pillow hugging and cooking. Lol xx Michael

    1. Sounds like a great plan Michael! 💕❤️

  26. Yum, I have to give this a try!

    1. It’s definitely a keeper in this household!

  27. Leah says:

    “In these unpredictable times, any event actually happening is a blessing indeed!” Amen to that! And cheers to many more healthy and happy family gatherings!

    This looks really good yet still healthy. And enjoy your new air fryer. I love mine! Almost everything goes into the air fryer instead of microwave, oven or toaster. 🙂 Excited to see your new air fryer recipes!

    1. I’m just learning how to use it. I made the obligatory French fries and they were delicious, but I’ve had a couple of misses too – such as the broccoli that was both raw and charred at the same time! It’s a learning curve, so I guess I probably should read the recipes.

      1. Leah says:

        I am using my air fryer pretty much for fries and appetizers even to reheat pizza. Mostly for his food.😂 Our diets are so different from one another. I love the air fryer to fry tofu. Best way is to drain amd squeeze the tofu a little first. I also use it to fry his hashbrowns or even toast hard rolls like sourdough instead of reheating in the oven. Will try fried cauliflower next. Enjoy!

      2. Will definitely try the tofu!

      3. Leah says:

        Let me know how you like it! 🙂

  28. kevinashton says:

    I like Spaghetti Squash from my days of living in the US but you don’t see it much in the UK.
    Happy New Year!

    1. Oh, that’s too bad, it’s such a tasty and fun vegetable.

      1. kevinashton says:

        And its a great alternative to pasta if you are glutin intolerant or just want to save a few calories. 🙂

      2. You could substitute some “spiralized” summer squash and it would be similar.

      3. kevinashton says:

        Great Idea Dorothy, thanks. 🙂

  29. sunisanthosh says:

    Really looks so delicious and I love everything included in this stunning recipe. 👌

    1. Thank you! It is one of my new favorites!

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